Notes On Mark’s Gospel (130)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

Justice? (Chapter 15 Verse 1-15)

The Gentiles now take over (v1; Mark 10.33), because only the Roman government can pass the death sentence which is the only consequence the Sanhedrin will countenance. Mark’s report is concise, brief even, for the fullness turn to John’s account (John 18.20-37). When Pilate questions Jesus about a kingship (v2), he is thinking politically of course, but Jesus makes it clear to him exactly what kind of a king he was (John 18.37). But why does Pilate subject Jesus to all this accusation yet again (vv3-4), when he himself had already found Jesus to be not guilty? Does not his, the Governor’s decision stand? Has he not got the bottle to stand on his own decision? The short answer is no. And a lengthier explanation causes us to understand the man’s cowardice, he is shifting his responsibilities which will enable him eventually, supposedly, to wash his hands of the death of Jesus (Matthew 27.24). But why is Pilate so amazed (v5), by Jesus’ silence? Because he knows this is no ordinary prisoner, this man Jesus is displaying no ordinary patience. This man is more than willing to suffer, even though it is unjust, Pilate knows the Jews only too well (v10), in vain he searches for an escape route (vv6-10).

Here are these Jews who hated the Romans, despised paying taxes to them, and here they are just using the Roman justice system for their own ends. Pilate knows only too well they are nothing but hypocrites. He knows Jesus is no rebel, and what he ought to do. God hates this injustice, it is a blot on his name and character when found in his own people (Deuteronomy 32.4; Isaiah 61.8). As a Christian learn from this whole fiasco, that God is a lover of righteousness, and that should be reflected in the Church’s life (Isaiah 5.16). That God is righteous means he is faithful, kind, merciful and loving, he is unshakeable in his covenant loyalty, his commitment to his people. But where is there even an hint of that here? Even if Jesus were guilty of the stated crimes, justice, righteousness should still be obviously fulfilled. But you see how far removed from God, and his righteousness these Jews have drifted (Hebrews 2.1). We need to be aware of our responsibility on the basis of a common created humanity (Proverbs 14.31), and even more so as his redeemed, to be a showcase of God’s righteousness. That is reflected in the way we treat everyone. You are accountable for your every vote (Genesis 4.9).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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